The story of Jesus is one of a young man who grew t understand that hope, God’s love and abundant life for all people were all tied up in God’s dream for a world lived by values of inclusion; grace and compassion. Travelling in the manner of his day he travelled with a community of followers who glimpsed something of the hope his story embodied and who sought more from time hearing his stories, being included and in facing the challenges to live out their participation in God’s mission in the world.
Religious Leaders of his day were threatened by the growing interest in Jesus and his story. One day they asked him a ‘trick question’ about which was the greatest commandment in Hebrew Law. Jesus quoted two well know parts of their Scriptures back to them as essentially the first is “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and the second and equally important idea of “love your neighbour as yourself.” These two laws are oriented towards loving actions in response to God and towards our ‘neighbour’ begging the question, ‘who is our neighbour?’
We have spent three weeks exploring this idea. Personally I shared that my neighbour includes: young people; our indigenous brothers and sisters; refugees and asylum seekers; and anyone who is struggling. In week two we understood Paul’s letter to the church in Rome inviting us to treat other followers of Jesus as neighbour and to seek unity despite of different perspectives, beliefs, ideas and practices. The goal is unity [not unanimity] around the core task of following Jesus as we come to understand that in our own lives. For each of us the invitation is to explore our own sense of neighbour and to work out what loving action looks like in those relationships.